Instead of taking your regular
three-hour drive via the M31 to reach Canberra from Sydney, why not spice up your trip with some memorable stops along the way? Even such a short stretch of road in Australia hides multiple natural wonders worth a visit, as well as charming little towns with their lovely, hospitable cultures. If you’re up for an adventure, bring your camera and pack your travel snacks for the road – here are a few worthy stops you can make that will slightly prolong your time on the road, but also turn your mundane ride into a fun experience you’ll be eager to repeat!
Royal National Park
An absolute must-see for any local as well as tourists, Royal National Park is the second oldest of its kind in the world and in addition to its historical value, it offers quite a captivating range of natural wealth. You can try the coastal walk and soak in the incredible view of the steep, broken cliffs, or you can roam through the bushland and by the numerous streams to admire the rich flora and aviary life. If you’re in a hurry, the track to Bungoona Lookout takes no more than half an hour, and it’s stroller-friendly for those traveling with kids, so you can have a taste of the wilderness off road, in all its glory without going through a strenuous hike.
After you take a portion of the Grand Pacific Drive, you get to a city with the cultural scene of Sydney, but without the hectic tempo. Wollongong has idyllic beaches where even beginners can have a go at surfing, such as Killalea Beach. On the other hand, if you’re still hyped after the National Park hike, you can visit the city’s ancient rainforest in the Southern Highlands. For a more urban experience, the city is teeming with fine eateries, His Boy Elroy’s can offer you some of the best burgers and fries in Australia, or you can enjoy the view of the Harbour from Bombora Seafood Restaurant.
Beautiful, serene and still lively, this charming little nook is just an hour away from Sydney, and it hides quite a few versatile activities that are family-friendly, as well as those for thrill-seekers. You can stop by the Illawarra Lake on your way to the town, spend an afternoon in a boat on the lake, or try some quiet fishing. If you are planning a group tour, renting a bus from Sydney to Canberra is the most convenient option, as you’ll have the freedom to choose your stops and breaks. You can spend some time exploring the galleries and shopping areas in the center, or stop by Tongarra Museum if you want to learn something about the city’s rich history. For airplane enthusiasts, visit the local Aviation Museum and travel back in time to learn about the famous World War II troop carriers and other incredible aircraft from that period.
In case you haven’t had the chance to get up-close and personal with some of Australia’s friendliest marine creatures, Jervis Bay is your perfect opportunity to meet and greet some of the local dolphins. Then again, this is also a perfect spot for whale-watching during their yearly migration, so pick a spot if you’re traveling between June and November and cameras at the ready! In addition to hospitable people, don’t be surprised if you come across numerous curious wildlife, such as kangaroos, wallabies and wombats, all living in harmony. The bay is truly a natural gem, so make sure to ask the locals for the quickest way to the gorgeous lagoons and hidden beaches for a picnic or just a perfect photo opportunity.
Lake George and Winery
The lake alone can greet you either dry or filled with water, depending on the time of your travels – although completely dry most of the time, when winters are particularly wet, as in 2016, the lake can refill and regain its bountiful beauty. However, the scenery is no less mesmerizing even without the water, so rest assured you’ll be welcomed by stunning vistas with or without water. For wine-lovers, the nearby vineyards often yield some of the most authentic Australian tastes, such as the Riesling Shiraz and Pinot Noir. It’s highly recommended to book your stay or tasting in advance, as this particular location is very desirable for weddings and other events, so they might be booked by the time you arrive.